This past Sunday was our Annual Parish Picnic and Mass on the Grass. We take this time after Memorial Day weekend to celebrate a wonderful program year and to transition into our summer service schedule, when we merge our two worship services into one at 9:30 am. Sunday was fantastic! The sun was shining, there was a light breeze, and the excitement of summer was in the air. We celebrated the completion of another year of Sunday School, recognizing both our teachers and children for all their hard work. We shared Holy Communion surrounded by God’s creation. And then we enjoyed the gift our property as we ate, laughed, played, and relaxed.
The Book of Common Prayer has a collect about these sorts of times: O God, in the course of this busy life, give us times of refreshment and peace; and grant that we may so use our leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds, that our spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP, 825) This past Sunday was a time of refreshment and peace for me. My husband and I were able to relax as our daughter ran and played with the other kids. I was able to catch up with people and hear about their summer plans – those other times of refreshment that are planned. And I was even able to get some exercise when the kids took a break from the bounce house.
But like any good collect, there is always a “so that.” Collects are prayers written with a specific formula – an address to God, a request from God, a hoped for outcome from the request, and a conclusion. The “so that” in this prayer is that we might rebuild our bodies, renew our minds, and that our spirits may be opened to the goodness of God’s creation. In many ways that is the “so that” for our summer season. We slow down a bit and we ease off some of our programming. We take that rest so that our minds can be renewed and our strength rebuilt – so that we are able to be reenergized for God’s work in a few months.
So this summer, although we slow down, we also use this time in meetings for strategy and planning. We pause to reflect on what has worked and what we can do better. We take a deep breath and listen for the Holy Spirit – something we often do not do in the chaos of our busy lives. Perhaps we even pick up a book that feeds us spiritually (to read along with whatever trashy novel or self-indulgent magazine we picked up for the beach!), that might inform our future work. I am excited for what this summer holds for St. Margaret’s, and am looking forward to the ways that God will be refreshing all of us.